Facing Canadian opposition for the second match in a row, Seattle Sounders FC returns to the scene of their first road victory when they meet Toronto FC on Saturday night. First kick is 4 p.m. ET at BMO Field and the game will be televised on KONG 6/16 and ROOT Sports.
This marks the halfway point in the MLS regular season for Seattle (5-4-7, 22 points), who are unbeaten in their last three. They have taken four points from the last two away matches.
The Rave Green are going for their second series win of 2011, having scored the biggest margin of victory, a 3-nil result, in the last encounter with Toronto at home on April 30. The Reds (2-5-8, 14 points) are searching for their first win in more than a month, having gone 0-2-4 in the last six. However they are coming off a 2-2 draw at Los Angeles, the Western Conference leader, with Alan Gordon getting the stoppage time equalizer.
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Sounders FC was also held to a single point last week. A dramatic ending saw Seattle surge from a goal down to take a late lead against Vancouver, only for Whitecaps FC to equalize a minute later.
That left the Rave Green tied for third in a very competitive West and their sum of 22 points would be sufficient for a tie for first in the East, where Toronto sits seventh. Seattle's away record is 2-2-4, nearly identical to the Reds' home mark of 2-2-5.
Sounders FC's record of success on the road began with their very first excursion on April 4, 2009. They won 2-0 at Toronto and have gone 13-13-12 away altogether.
Two home dates await Seattle's return next week. They host the East co-leader New York Red Bulls on June 23 before a national TV audience on ESPN2, then the New England Revolution come to town on June 26.
Arlo White will call Saturday's match on television and on 97.3 KIRO FM. The action can also be heard on La Gran D 99.3 FM and THIS-TV will broadcast the match in Spanish.
Eastern TravelsThe flight to Toronto is the fifth to Eastern Time Zone during the first half of the year. Sounders FC are 6-7-3 in that sector, including a record of 0-2-2 this season. The final ET trip comes October 1 at New England. Seattle will travel the third-most in MLS this season, an estimated 50,582 miles. Vancouver (52,656) and New England (52,010) rank 1-2.
Where the Road BeganSeattle has pulled off some surprises in its first two-plus seasons, including some startling results on the road. And the first of those came on April 4, 2009, on a cold, wet afternoon near the shores of Lake Ontario. Freddie Ljungberg and Steve Zakuani struck in the first half and the Rave Green was on its way to a win in their first road game.
Since then Seattle has gone on to win the 2009 U.S. Open Cup final at D.C United, break the Columbus Crews' record 22-game home unbeaten streak in 2009, and, last month, snap Real Salt Lake's MLS record 29-match home unbeaten skein.
Sounders FC have two road wins already. In 2009 they didn't win again on the road until Match 21 at L.A., and in 2010 the second away result came in Match 17 at D.C. United.
Series NotesSounders FC is 3-1-1 all-time against Toronto FC, outscoring the Reds 8-4. The lone Seattle loss came in its last visit to BMO Field, a 2-0 defeat on April 25, 2010. In its only other visit to Toronto, the Rave Green earned its first road victory in its inaugural away match. The sides split the 2010 season series with each club winning its home match and Seattle will look to win this season's series after a 3-nil home win on April 30. Brad Evans recorded a brace and an assist and Alvaro Fernandez's early goal held as the game-winner as Kasey Keller earned his second shutout. Seattle has scored five of its eight goals against Toronto in the first 45 minutes while three of the Reds' four goals have come in the second half, including two in the final 15.
About TorontoToronto FC is tied sixth in the Eastern Conference with 14 points from 15 games. The Reds are on a six-game winless stretch (0-2-4) but have drawn four of its last five. After suffering the biggest defeat in club history on May 28 (6-2 home loss to Philadelphia Union), Toronto FC has bounced back to earn two draws, including a 2-2 tie on the road against the L.A. Galaxy on Saturday. With 15 goals scored and a league-high 25 allowed, Toronto's goal differential (-10) is bottom in the league. The club is third in MLS in shots on goal percentage (38.2), putting 63 of 165 shots on frame.
Reds NotablesBrazilian forward Maicon Santos leads the club with five goals. He has not scored since May 28 but is third in MLS with 38 shots. Veteran forward Alan Gordon has added four goals, including two - one a stoppage time equalizer - against the Galaxy on Saturday. Newcomers Javier Martina and Joao Plata have each added two tallies but the forward paring of Nick Soolsma and Mikael Yourassowsky are yet to score a goal. Defender Richard Eckersley grew up in Salford, England and played for Manchester United from 2007-2009, making two appearances with the senior team. Defender Danleigh Borman has recorded a team-high three assists. Despite a 1.67 goals against average (19th in MLS), Stefan Frei leads the league with 53 saves and has posted four shutouts. The three goals allowed in his last matchup with Seattle came with a season-high six saves.
Two Reds are currently on international duty at the CONCACAF Gold Cup. Midfielder Julian De Guzman joined Canada and hopes to earn a result on Tuesday night against Panama to advance out of the group stage. Defender Dicoy Williams (Jamaica) has helped the Reggae Boyz clinch first place in Group B and a spot in the quarterfinals.
Among the notable injuries are midfielder Alen Stevanovic, who has not played since May 28 with adductor tightness and Adrian Cann, who is out for the remainder of the season with a torn ACL.
SEA/TFC ConnectionsToronto midfielder Nathan Sturgis spent the past two seasons playing in Seattle before being selected by Vancouver in the expansion draft and traded to Toronto over the offseason. Sturgis totaled 29 appearances with one goal and two assists for Sounders FC and has started five games with Toronto this season, going the full 90 in the past two matches. Sigi Schmid coached Alan Gordon at L.A. Galaxy (2004) and Gordon attended Oregon State University. Sounders FC rookie Servando Carrasco (2007-10) played with Toronto's Stefan Frei (2006-08) and Demitrius Omphroy (2007-10) at the University of California-Berkeley. Toronto Defender Ty Harden played at the University of Washington from 2003-06.
Seattle forward O'Brian White moved to Toronto from Jamaica as a teenager in 2002. After playing collegiately at UConn, White was selected by Toronto FC with the fourth overall pick in the 2009 MLS SuperDraft. He spent two seasons playing for the Reds, totaling 33 appearances with four goals and four assists.